90% of families in rural areas of Guatemala cook using wood as their primary fuel source which results in over 5000 deaths per year. Respiratory diseases are the largest single cause of death in the country with women suffering the most.
Unfortunately, even though women are the primary users of stoves and are at the mercy of their effects they have a very small presence in the clean cookstove industry and are very rarely involved in product design.
We were recently successful in achieving funding from the Women’s Empowerment Fund of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the United Nations Foundation to carry out a new project where we will be working with groups of women to allow them to design and develop a new stove which will be used for the commercial cooking of typical food. By working with the women and using our engineering experience, together we will produce a product that works exactly as the women want but will also feature efficient clean burning combustion and a chimney to remove smoke from the user. We hope that the new product will offer existing vendors a healthier safer way to sell their food while saving firewood and money.
Focusing on user demands is at the core of our philosophy and this grant allows us to take a new approach in Guatemala and give women the opportunity to design their own stove.
By sharing the lessons and success of this project to the global stove community, we hope to spread the message of the benefits of involving women in stove design and development. Watch this space!